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The N.Y. Subway Deaths

Estimated reading time — 6 minutes

One of my friends is a paramedic in New York. Don’t ask me why, but it was always his dream to become one, and New York being the big and wild city that it is, he has of course seen some crazy things. He doesn’t talk about his experiences much since they are always very personal and often disturbing, but I know that he has encountered his fair share of gruesome stabbings and gun shots. For example, he told us how one time some kids were playing with a shotgun, and one of them got his jaw blown off. The boy was still alive as my friend rushed him to the ER and eventually lived, but he is horribly disfigured now and has to eat through a tube for the rest of his life. There were other, stranger things. He told us once how he responded to a call where an elderly woman managed to decapitate herself at home alone. They found her body sitting in a chair in front of the TV, which was still on, and her head was laying on its side in the middle of the floor beside a puddle of blood. Her door was locked and all the windows were closed. All they know is that her neighbors heard a loud thud in her apartment and called the police when she didn’t answer her door, but no one has figured out exactly how it happened.

Yet by far the strangest, creepiest story that he ever told us is the one about the mysterious subway deaths that happened several years ago. A few of my other friends and I were hanging out at his apartment one time, drinking and listening to music, when the topic of ghosts came up. We started by talking playfully about “ghost” experiences we had as children – just shadows in the corner of the eye, feelings of being watched, and stuff like that – but then my friend spoke up and said in a very serious voice that he wanted to tell us a story that he swore to God actually happened and freaked him out so much that it sometimes kept him awake and, when he rode the subway late at night, almost gave him panic attacks. We all became serious as he told us the following story, which I will now tell you.

So, my friend said a couple of years ago that the ambulance crews started getting calls about once every week about people found dead on the subway. The deaths always happened between a few particular stations (he said the names, but I can’t recall them exactly, the N.Y. subway system is huge) and always happened late at night when the cars were almost deserted. In fact, the victims were always found alone in the subway cars sitting or lying on the benches, and there were never any witnesses. Another detail is that all the victims were males and died of heart attacks, sometimes even when they were unusually young.


After the calls had been coming in steady for a couple of months, the story started to get some minor attention. The police checked footage from the cameras in the stations, but never saw anyone get on or off the trains regularly that made them think that a particular person was causing the heart attacks with drugs or a stun gun or by some other means. There was no explanation. It seemed that some unlucky guy would be riding a subway car, everyone else would happen to get off, and then sometime when he was alone in the car between stations he would simply have a massive heart attack and die. The newspaper even ran a small insert about the case in the back reaches of the police blotter (perhaps you even saw it) asking for information, yet nothing came of it. But eventually my friend was lucky, or unlucky, enough to get a clue about what might have been going on.

He was on duty one night when his crew responded to a call about one of the heart attacks, but this time the person managed to survive. They picked him up from the platform of one of the stations, where he was lying on the ground with a jacket from a good Samaritan who called 911 under his head. The person who placed the call was still there and said that when he entered the car he saw the man sitting slumped over on one of the benches and gasping for breath, then called 911 when the man indicated that he needed help. My friend assisted in strapping the guy, who was about 40 or so, into a stretcher and was with him in the back of the ambulance as they went to the emergency room. The man was well enough to talk, and my friend listened to him while he did whatever medical things one does in such a situation. Soon he realized that something abnormal was going on in the subway, something that still disturbs him to this day.

The man said that he was on his way home from an exhausting shift at work late at night as usual. There were just a few people in the car when he boarded, and he was very tired and started nodding off as he sat in the car. He said he remembered at one point in between naps that the car became deserted except for him. Then he suddenly awoke to find himself paralyzed. He could see in front of him what was going on, but couldn’t move anything, not even blink. He tried to yell, to moan, to do something, but the only result of his inward efforts was silence. He said that he had experienced sleep paralysis before, usually at home, but it was what happened next that almost killed him.


As he was sitting there paralyzed, the train rolling between stations, he saw a little girl walking towards him. She was neither happy nor sad, he said, just an average little girl like you would see walking down the street, but she was transparent, as if he were watching a reflection in a window. He began to feel extremely anxious as she came nearer but still couldn’t move. She did not look at his eyes, but he said that she looked at him as if she knew him. She acted like it as well. She climbed up into his lap and curled herself into a ball as if to sleep, just the way you often see little girls do with their parents when they are tired. At that moment, he said his heart attack started. The little girl was cold and motionless as she sat in his lap, and he said the cold from her crept over his whole body until it began to feel like someone was squeezing the middle of his chest. He started to lose his breath, but there was nothing he could do – the little girl just sat there in his lap, filling him up with cold. Suddenly the subway arrived at the next station and the little girl “dissolved” (the man’s words) from his lap just before he heard the door open. That’s when the good Samaritan who made the call came up to him, he said.

My friend related that the man survived the incident and recovered fully. The calls about heart attacks continued to come in for another month or so, then mysteriously stopped just as quickly as they had started. No conventional explanation was ever found that could fully explain the incident. My friend offered a couple theories of his own as to what might have happened. First, he said that sleep paralysis is fairly common and often is accompanied by vivid dreams and hallucinations, which could explain what the man saw. Yet it does not explain the wave of heart attacks, all occurring to males alone on the subway, all between roughly the same stations. Unfortunately for the sake of finding the truth, the lucky man was, at least to my friend’s knowledge, the only one to survive, and consequently there are no other stories to corroborate his. The other theory is that there really was a ghost of a little girl who caused the heart attacks on the subway. Like any big city, New York has a lot of domestic crime and many broken families. My friend speculated that she was a girl who was perhaps killed by one of her parents or who maybe died when she somehow wandered into the subway tunnels after running away from home and spent the time after her death searching for her father. Of course, no one knows for sure.


After my friend finished speaking, we all sat there silently, staring at the ground. Some upbeat song played in the background from the stereo, but the mood was dead by now and stayed that way until my friends and I went home. When we did, I don’t think a single one of us took the subway that evening.


Credit To – S.C. Donahue

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9 thoughts on “The N.Y. Subway Deaths”

  1. Bunch of people dying of unexplained heart attacks…this sounds like someone found a Death Note. Get L on the phone!

  2. Jüan P. Medina II

    The way this was wrighten it kept me reading, and it had just the right amount of detail to make me believe to some degree, this was a good story. But if I were to camp fire this story with some shock value it would Ruin it

  3. The straight-forward storytelling was great, and very much appreciated. I liked this a lot, but find myself wondering why it didn’t feel creepier. Maybe because it has that it-happened-to-a-friend-of-a-friend quality that takes away some of its impact?

    On a different note, the NYC paramedic subculture is really dark and strange. Anyone interested (or perhaps looking for story inspiration) should check out this article:

  4. Your speaking mannerism was great. I really liked the writing. But the story wasn’t as creepy as it could have been. It’s hard to pull off creepy without a twist ending, and a transparent girl sitting on your lap and you feeling cold isn’t detail enough to invoke fear in readers.

  5. Dunletdemno Huyuar

    You’ve done an excellent job of writing in a way that makes it seem your friend really did tell you this story, and your writing is excellent, but the story itself lacks depth. That could be because a real story such as this would lack depth, but for entertainment purposes, I found it wanting.

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